The Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation (BLMGNF) is attempting to defend itself from scrutiny surrounding its handling of donations amassed over the past several years. After a report revealed that the group secretly purchased a $6 million mansion in California, the organization was heaped with criticism from people on the left and right calling for transparency.
Ten local BLM chapters complained in 2020 that the global organization had shared only a small percentage of the funds it received from donors, which means very little of the money is being used to effect change in black communities.
In a lengthy thread on Twitter, BLMGNF promised to provide more public insight into its finances. After referring to “recent inflammatory and speculative articles,” the organization said it was “redoubling our efforts to provide clarity about BLMGNF’s work.” It declared that “[i]n the coming weeks, we will unveil new initiatives to increase transparency and accountability, and to continue reshaping what radical philanthropy looks like for Black people.”
Paul Kamenar, a lawyer with the National Legal and Policy Center, told the Washington Examiner:
“Now that BLM has been exposed for failing to account for their use of some $90 million in donations over the last year and confronted with the purchase of an expensive LA mansion in 2020 used by [BLM co-founder Patrisse] Cullors and her associates, they are now scrambling to come up with unverified evidence to justify the use of most of those funds.”
The BLMGNF Twitter thread claimed to have provided 3,000 grants of $1,000 to black families “over the last several months.” This is related to a program that was closed only one day after it was launched on Feb. 25, 2021. The group also said it granted more than $25 million to “Black-led frontline orgs around the world.”
BLM stated that it had obtained 60,000 signatures for a petition to end qualified immunity for police officers and “worked to build support among policymakers for federal legislation like the BREATHE Act + the People’s Response Act.” The organization bragged about joining a conference call with other progressive groups in November 2021 to push Representative Cori Bush’s (D-MO) People’s Response Act. Lastly, it touted a concert it hosted at the Miracle Theater in Inglewood, CA, to “celebrate and uplift Black joy & creativity.”
Yet BLM did not mention any specific actions it plans to take to foster accountability.
Does anyone think this rather paltry list vindicated BLMGNF? Even cumulatively, the action items do not come close to accounting for the $90 million in donations received from well-meaning corporations and individuals who gave their hard-earned money to help the black community. This is the real problem. The group appears to have conned the generous into believing that it was improving conditions for black Americans when it only enriched its leaders.
Meanwhile, some who are at the lower echelons of the BLM movement, and local chapters working in the community to effect positive change, have been left high and dry by the global organization. Even parents of black men killed by police officers have loudly castigated the group for using their sons’ names to solicit donations and throwing only a few crumbs to the victims’ families.
California recently targeted BLM for its failure to provide the annual registration renewal fee report and 2020 IRS tax forms. The state’s attorney general threatened to hold the “directors, trustees, officers and return preparers personally liable” for “all penalties, interest and other costs incurred to restore [charity] exempt status.”
So far, the disposition of the organization’s finances remains murky. Many questions are still unanswered, and leadership is dragging its feet. As calls for answers continue to mount, will BLM be able to maintain even a semblance of credibility?